Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: Why Count Day is such a big deal for Michigan schools

Good morning!

Today is Count Day, a very big day for Michigan schools when the number of students enrolled determines the bulk of a school's state funding for the rest of the year.

The day is crucial because, as the Moving Costs series we published yesterday illustrates, students in cities like Detroit don’t pick a school and stay. They move. Parents have lots of choices — many of them less-than-high-quality. They might try one school in September and another in October before settling on a third in November. That creates all kinds  of difficult consequences for students and schools.

That’s why schools are pulling out all the stops today, hosting carnivals and pizza parties, to get students to class. They might not be able to control what happens next week or the week after, but a high number of students today can make a big difference for schools. It might determine whether a school can hire enough staff to offer the kinds of high-quality programs that would give families a reason to stay.

Our series on students frequently changing schools was a joint effort with Bridge Magazine. We wrote about the journeys of students in one eighth-grade class where the average student had attended more than four schools. We took a look at the impact on teachers, the motivations of parents, the implications for children’s safety — and offered five fixes that could help.

Scroll down for more on these stories, and the rest of the day’s education headlines — and let us know what you think. Thanks!

— Erin Einhorn, Bureau Chief

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox, or forward to a friend who cares about public education.

ONE CLASS The average student in this eighth-grade class had attended more than four schools each, but they’re not alone. Across the city, one in three elementary school students changes schools every year, creating a level of chaos that drives down test scores, exacerbates behavioral problems and fuels drop-out rates. Chalkbeat/Bridge

PARENTS Detroit parents have lots of school choices including urban and suburban, magnet and charter. But quality is low, conditions are poor and parents shopping for schools keep looking for something better. Chalkbeat/Bridge

HEARTBREAK Teachers working in schools where students are coming and going throughout the year have to scramble for a desk and a book when a new student arrives. They say it’s heartbreaking when a student unexpectedly leaves without saying good-bye. Chalkbeat/Bridge

DETECTIVES When students abruptly stop coming to school, Detroit school staffers have to find them to make sure they’re safe. That takes them away from other crucial work that needs to be done. Chalkbeat/Bridge

FIXES Students won’t stop changing schools until there’s a great school in every neighborhood that they won’t want to leave. But until then, here are five things Detroit could do to cut down on enrollment instability — or at least reduce its effects. Chalkbeat/Bridge

CHARTER Students who attended a charter school that announced its sudden closure last week are now scattered at schools throughout the region. Metro Times

SPECIAL A federal report sharply critical of special education in Michigan comes as no surprise to advocates who are planning a rally in Lansing today. Detroit Free Press Michigan Radio

KNOW Here are 14 things parents should know about advocating for their children with special needs at school. Detroit Free Press

COUNT Schools across the state are using robocalls, social media blasts, phone calls, emails and text messages to remind parents to bring their children to school on Count Day. MLive

BLUE These 13 Michigan schools were honored with national blue ribbon distinction. Detroit Free Press WDIV

CLASS SIZE An education advocate takes issue with the idea that lower class sizes improve educational outcomes. Mackinac Center for Public Policy

DIVERSITY These Detroit-area private schools strive to enroll a diverse student body. Model D